Foot-and-mouth outbreak linked to research lab

A private laboratory in England is the prime suspect in the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease. UK officials believe that a breakdown in procedures at Merial Animal Health--which is jointly led by Merck and Sanofi-Aventis--led to the infection of nearby animals. The strain of foot-and-mouth disease that was discovered is the same strain that is studied in the laboratory, which researches and manufactures new vaccines. The lab, meanwhile, insists that it has operated for years without any biosecurity breach. Government investigators are promising complete answers in 48 hours to help stem the crisis atmosphere in the country. On the one hand, a nearby lab breach would calm fears that the disease was being spread through herds in the country. The last outbreak cost the UK £7 billion. But a release of the disease from a lab would also likely heighten biosecurity efforts in the country.

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